Op-Ed: Frank Chopp to Try to Defend State Democrats’ Craven Retreat on Progressive Issues to Actual Progressive
Democratic Speaker of the State House Frank Chopp has a tricky job cut out for himself tonight. He has to debate with, politically speaking, a gnat, and somehow not look foolish or (worse) outgunned.
UPDATE: There’s a Livestream of the debate available if you don’t mind having to create a Livestream account to see it.
Chopp has agreed to cross policy-swords with his surprise challenger for reelection, Kshama Sawant (7:30 p.m., Seattle University
Sawant has been using what, elsewhere than the “Soviet of Seattle,” might be construed as a weakness as a means of drumming up media coverage. An economics professor at Seattle Central Community College, Sawant publicizes her membership in American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, and has gone to court to win the right to label herself a socialist.
In the primary, Sawant was actually running against Jamie Pedersen (here’s a profile from Capitol Hill Seattle). But it was alternative weekly The Stranger‘s idea to make the socialist alternative candidate a write-in against Frank Chopp.
In their endorsement, The Stranger‘s Election Control Board noted that “Sawant had originally filed to run against house Speaker Frank Chopp. We wish she’d stuck with her instincts, because Pedersen isn’t part of the Democratic problem.”
Then they added this last bit:
Speaker Frank Chopp has done a great job building and maintaining a Democratic majority, but he’s done a crappy job using it, presiding over a decade of budget cuts while doing nothing to address our state’s structural revenue deficit.
That’s why we’re writing in Kshama Sawant, who didn’t file in this race, but should have.
To the delight of card-carrying socialists everywhere, when the votes were counted up Sawant had won eleven percent of the votes in Position 2 as a write-in against Chopp.
Laissez-whatevs state law allows a candidate to, you know, go with the flow in terms of the voting public’s captious inclinations, so Sawant, issuing press releases at every juncture, has finally ended up with a debate scheduled against Chopp tonight while Pedersen gets to sit at home with the kids watching Matthew Perry in Go On. (Tonight he plays hockey!)
This is of interest to you or not depending on how enamored you are with machine politics, as co-opted by the Democratic and Republican parties. If you’re of a more representative, even parliamentarian, bent, the identity overlap between Seattle’s 43rd legislative district and an Indian woman with degrees in computer science and economics may seem particularly apt.
“Our Democratic majority and agenda has accomplished more in the last few years than has been done in decades,” says Chopp on his reelection site. The Schmudget budget wonks back him up on this, it just depends on whether you’re proud of the accomplishment: “Investments that support a strong state economy–such as higher education, child care, job training, and health care–already have been slashed by some $10.6 billion since 2009.”
In another post, Schmudget adds that “Poverty among Washingtonians increased from 9 percent before the recession (2006-2007), to 12 percent in 2010-2011, and median income declined by $4,630 over the same period.”
While Democrats have found renewed strength in their budget-axe arm, hacking away at support for the poor, unemployed, uninsured, mentally ill, and so forth, they were able to see their way to funding the single most expensive Viaduct replacement option, and to moving ahead with the 520 bridge replacement project, even though more than two billion dollars in funding has yet to be identified.
Whatever the realities of the recession, unless the Democratic motto is really “Standing with you…in good times,” their record on defending social spending and responding to change with innovation has been miserable. (PS: Craziest Budget Cut by Washington State Legislature in 2011? Why is the Legislature Trying to Kill Washington State Parks?) As Speaker, Chopp has a lot to answer for.
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